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Old October 17th, 2001, 21:50
sysadmin sysadmin is offline
Join Date: 2001
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Moscow's germ warfare abilities were 'staggering'

Reprinted from

Moscow's Germ Warfare Abilities Were 'Staggering'
Phil Brennan,
Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2001
While the U.S. was shutting down its germ warfare programs on orders from President Richard Nixon, Soviet scientists were plunging ahead with research and production of an arsenal of deadly biological weapons so vast it could have wiped out the entire population of the United States.
And even though the Soviet Union is no more, nations across the globe are developing horrendous biological warfare weapons, according to a blockbuster new book, Germs: biological weapons and America's secret war by New York Times reporter Judith Miller and published by Simon & Schuster.

In the U.S., military leaders liked the idea of germ warfare because it was cheap, quick and dirty. The book reveals just how dirty when it reports that scientists working at Fort Detrick, Md., had learned to "make botulinum toxin so concentrated that a pound of it, if properly dispersed, could in theory kill a billion people," the author wrote.

The Soviets were hard at work as early as the 1920s, spurred on by Stalin. After Nixon banned further research and development in biological warfare, the Soviets continued their work.

It wasn't known how far the Soviets had progressed, however, until the Cold War ended. What the U.S. learned then about their progress was, in the words of the Times, "staggering."

"United States officials who in 1995 visited the most advanced of six former Soviet germ- production plants in Stepnogorsk, Kazakhstan, found ten 20-ton fermentation vats as high as four stories," the Times reported.

"Each vat could hold 20,000 liters. The facility could produce 300 tons of anthrax spores in a production cycle of 220 days, enough to fill many ICBMs and more than enough to have killed America's entire population."

In April 1979, what is now believed to have been an accidental release of anthrax from the Stepnogorsk plant killed at least 66 people.

And while no other nation has the ability to match that awesome arsenal of biological weaponry, some intelligence experts worry that some unemployed former Soviet scientists might have shared their knowledge with rogue nations or even terrorist groups eager to acquire a germ warfare capability.

Pointing up the dangers of proliferation of biological weaponry, the book notes that while it took the United States and the Soviet Union more than a decade to develop their capabilities, Iraq "learned how to make thousands of gallons of anthrax and botulinum in just a few years."

Experts wonder if we are now beginning to see the results of the spread of that knowledge.


Books of interest:

America's Achilles' Heel

First responder chem-bio handbook

U.S. Army Survival Manual
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